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Unhealthy practice

Jun 06,2022 - Last updated at Jun 06,2022

There is an unhealthy practice by the administrations of several shopping malls, related to preventing youth males from entering these malls alone during holidays, weekends, and at times all other times.

Despite the reasons given by these administrations, the practice is incorrect and it causes frustration and harm to these young people, in addition to depriving them of access to basic shopping needs and to having fun like other people in our society and like their counterparts in those countries which do not resort to such a practice.

It is a strange practice indeed and it, alas, has a long history in our society, but it has escalated and become more visible recently due to population increase and to the expansion of urbanisation and shopping complexes.

Young people in our society, like in other societies worldwide, have a lot of free time at their disposal which they must fill with useful or fun activities. And if they are unable to do so, they will suffer from loneliness and dejection, and all types of vulnerabilities.

Thus enabling them to fill part of their free time by frequently malls for shopping, dining, or hanging out with peers will certainly alleviate the problem of excess, “vacant” time, and enable them to have some fulfilment.

No one denies the importance of families paying great attention to the young people and involving them in all familial activities that they should be involved in, including accompanying them to malls and outings of all sorts, as such involvement endows the youth with a sense of safety and belonging.

And there are, unfortunately, families that do not spend enough time with young members of their families, thus leaving them at the mercy of either a feeling of alienation and loss or bad company.

And this is why familial and social support are so crucial here.

Several mall administrations which practice these measures give their rationale for it. Despite the fact that it may seem justifiable from their own point of view, it is an incorrect and harmful measure, and better alternatives can be found.

Among what they say is that these young people are “noisy”, and that they sometimes cause disturbance and even harass others.

If the reasons given are in fact true, they still do not justify the unwise practice of access prevention, for dealing with incorrect behaviour cannot and should not be based on incorrect measures. One cannot rectify a wrong by another wrong.

What is required are prevention measures and arrangements that ensure good behaviour in malls, and not prevention of access.

Not all young people who frequent malls are noisy or go to deliberately cause disturbance and harass. Most go to shop, dine, and just have fun; and most are extremely well-behaved.

Those who may cause “trouble” are very few indeed, and the way to deal with them is not to prevent access but to organise and regulate it.

If young people are received well at malls, are given an ample awareness of the rules and regulations, and are encouraged to observe them all the time, they will most definitely abide by them, and this will be a win-win situation: For the mall administrators and shop owners who want to conduct business and gain profit, and for the young people who either want to shop or have a good time.

And clearly, those who do not abide by the rules can be kindly asked to depart.

Our young people require of us a lot of attention and care, and part and parcel of that is to allow them access to public spaces, under kind and caring supervision if needed.

The worst measure is prevention of access, deprivation and discrimination.

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